Don’t Be Evil

Don’t be evil‘ was the formal corporate motto (or slogan) of Google. It was first suggested either by Google employee Paul Buchheit at a meeting about corporate values that took place in early 2000, or by Google Engineer Amit Patel in 1999. Buchheit, the creator of Gmail, said he ‘wanted something that, once you put it in there, would be hard to take out,’ adding that the slogan was ‘also a bit of a jab at a lot of the other companies, especially our competitors, who at the time, in our opinion, were kind of exploiting the users to some extent.’

While the official corporate philosophy of Google does not contain the words ‘Don’t be evil,’ they were included in the prospectus of Google’s 2004 IPO (a letter from Google’s founders, later called the ”Don’t Be Evil’ manifesto’): ‘Don’t be evil. We believe strongly that in the long term, we will be better served — as shareholders and in all other ways — by a company that does good things for the world even if we forgo some short term gains.’

In their 2004 founders’ letter prior to their initial public offering, Larry Page and Sergey Brin explained that their ‘Don’t be evil’ culture prohibited conflicts of interest, and required objectivity and an absence of bias: Google users trust our systems to help them with important decisions: medical, financial and many others. Our search results are the best we know how to produce. They are unbiased and objective, and we do not accept payment for them or for inclusion or more frequent updating. We also display advertising, which we work hard to make relevant, and we label it clearly. This is similar to a well-run newspaper, where the advertisements are clear and the articles are not influenced by the advertisers’ payments. We believe it is important for everyone to have access to the best information and research, not only to the information people pay for you to see.’

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